Tennessee Titans (3-11) vs. Houston Texans (7-7)
Sunday, December 27th, 2015 | Noon CST
Nashville, TN | Nissan Stadium | TV: CBS
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Titans (3-11) conclude their 2015 home schedule this week against the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (7-7). Kickoff at Nissan Stadium (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CST on Sunday, December 27th.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Play-by-play announcer Spero Dedes and analyst Solomon Wilcots will call the action.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will carry the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, analyst Frank Wycheck, gameday host Rhett Bryan and sideline reporter Jonathan Hutton.
Titans Hope to Finish Strong against Division Foes
The Titans’ two remaining games are both against division opponents. After they play the Texans, they finish the season on January 3rd at the Indianapolis Colts. They earned a win in their most recent division game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on December 6th.
The Titans return home following a 33-16 loss at the hands of the New England Patriots and are 2-5 under interim head coach Mike Mularkey, who took the reins on November 3rd.
At New England, the Titans played more than half of the game with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback after a knee injury forced rookie starter Marcus Mariota out after attempting only six passes. Mettenberger was 20-of-28 passing for 242 yards, including a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Delanie Walker, but he was victimized for two interceptions. The Patriots forced a total of three turnovers and sacked the Titans passers five times.
With two weeks remaining in his rookie campaign, Mariota already has set the franchise rookie records for pass attempts (370), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing touchdowns (19). With one more touchdown pass, he would become the 11th quarterback in NFL history to reach 20 touchdown passes as a rookie.
Mariota is not the only Titans player in search of significant milestones. Walker has 76 receptions and 935 yards, which already qualify as single-season franchise records among tight ends. He needs 65 more receiving yards for the first-ever 1,000-yard season by a Titans tight end, and he could become only the 13th player in team annals with 80 catches in a season. Seven or more receptions would put him in at least a tie with Tim Smith (83 receptions in 1983) for eighth place on the franchise single-season receptions list.
He is one of three NFL rookies in 2015 to record multiple 100-yard receiving games, joining Oakland’s Amari Cooper and Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs. Green-Beckham, Kenny Britt (2009) and Justin Hunter (2013) are the only three rookies in the “Titans era” (1999—present) with multiple 100-yard receiving games.
Texans in Search of Division Crown
Head coach Bill O’Brien’s Texans enter Week 16 needing a win to maintain sole possession of first place in the division. They faced a crucial hurdle last week at Indianapolis and came away with a 16-10 victory over the Colts, who slipped to second place at 6-8.
Meanwhile, the third-place Jacksonville Jaguars are still in the race at 5-9. Simultaneous to the the Titans-Texans matchup this week, the Jaguars will visit the New Orleans Saints and the Colts will play at the Miami Dolphins.
Against the Colts, Texans starting quarterback Brian Hoyer was inactive due to a concussion, and as a result, T.J. Yates received the start. However, Yates was knocked out of the contest with a knee injury in the first half, producing an unlikely hero in third-stringer Brandon Weeden. In the fourth quarter, Weeden completed the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
Whoever serves as the starting quarterback this week will have the benefit of throwing to one of the top young pass-catching talents in the NFL, third-year wideout DeAndre Hopkins. The former first-round pick ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,315 receiving yards and is tied for fourth with 97 receptions.
On defense, the Texans are led by two-time Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. Watt is tied for second place in the NFL with 13.5 sacks.
What to look for this Week
S Michael Griffin (897 career tackles, as tallied by coaches) needs three tackles to reach 900 for his career and 11 tackles to pass Ted Washington (907) for fourth place on the franchise career list.
P Brett Kern (520 punts with the Titans) needs three punts to pass Jim Norton (522) for second place on the franchise’s all-time career punting list.
TE Delanie Walker (74 receptions in 2015) needs four receptions to record the 13th 80-catch season in franchise history.
TE Delanie Walker (935 receiving yards) needs 65 receiving yards to reach 1,000 receiving yards in 2015.
TE Delanie Walker (199 receptions with the Titans) needs one catch to break a tie with Alvin Reed (199) for third on the franchise’s all-time receptions list among tight ends and become the third tight end in franchise history to reach 200 receptions (Frank Wycheck and Bo Scaife).
WR Kendall Wright (248 career receptions for 2,810 yards) needs two receptions to reach 250 for his career. He needs four receptions to pass Bo Scaife (251) for 13th place on the team’s all-time receptions list and needs nine yards to pass Alvin Reed (2,818) for 15th place on the team’s all-time receiving yards list.
Titans-Texans Series History
The Titans-Texans rivalry is in its 14th year since the expansion Texans began play and the AFC South was formed in 2002. In 27 games, the Titans are 15-12 against the Texans, including an 8-5 mark at Nissan Stadium and a 7-7 record at NRG Stadium.
While the Titans have the advantage in the series, the Texans have won six out of the last seven battles, including a current three-game streak.
The last time the teams met at Nissan Stadium was October 26th, 2014.
In the rematch at Houston on November 30th, the Texans completed the season sweep, as Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for six touchdowns and 358 yards in a 45-21 Texans victory.
In the initial meeting of 2015, played at NRG Stadium on November 1st, Mettenberger (22-of-31 for 171 yards and an interception) started for an injured Marcus Mariota (knee) and was sacked seven times as the Texans rolled to a 20-6 win. Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt combined for six of the sacks.
The Titans franchise has a rich and storied history with the city of Houston. Under late owner K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr., the Titans existed as the Houston Oilers from 1960-96. In Houston, the Oilers won the first two American Football League Championships and made a total of 15 playoff appearances. Nine players who spent a significant portion of their careers in a Houston Oilers uniform are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including most recently former quarterback Warren Moon, defensive tackle Curley Culp and offensive lineman Bruce Matthews.
The team moved to Tennessee in 1997 and in 1999 adopted the “Titans” moniker.
Titans-Texans: The Last Meeting
Tennessee Titans 6 at Houston Texans 20
Sunday, November 1st, 2015
NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
In Week 8 of the 2015 season, the Houston Texans forced three turnovers and sacked Zach Mettenberger seven times to defeat the Titans 20-6 at NRG Stadium.
Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus recorded 3.5 sacks, while defensive end J.J. Watt notched 2.5 sacks and forced a fumble. They keyed a consistent rush that never let Mettenberger and the Titans offense get settled. Mettenberger finished the day 22-of-31 for 171 yards.
Meanwhile, Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer was 23-of-35 passing for 235 yards with no interceptions. His two touchdown passes provided a comfortable margin with the defense keeping the Titans attack at bay. The day began with promise, as the Titans got on the scoreboard first.
After the defense forced a three-and-out to open the game, the offense drove 59 yards on 10 plays before Ryan Succop made a 35-yard field goal.
Early in the second quarter, the Texans grabbed a lead they would never relinquish. Following the Titans’ second consecutive three-and-out, they were forced to punt from their own end zone. The result was the Texans starting from their own 46-yard line, and five plays later, Hoyer found wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Hopkins led all receivers in the contest with eight catches for 94 yards.
On the ensuing kickoff, Bishop Sankey fielded the ball in the end zone and returned it to the 17-yard line. However, he was met by Kurtis Drummond and lost control of the ball. It was recovered by Eddie Pleasant for the Texans, and a subsequent 38-yard field goal by Nick Novak extended the Texans’ lead to 10-3.
The Titans finally added to their total on their second drive of the second half. An 18-yard reception by wide receiver Kendall Wright and a 28-yard run by Antonio Andrews set up a 44-yard field goal by Succop.
But the Texans responded immediately with their second touchdown of the day to give them a 17-6 lead. They went 80 yards on six plays, the bulk of it coming on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Hoyer to wide receiver Nate Washington.
The Titans were fortunate to have consecutive giveaways in the fourth quarter only result in three points for the Texans. Mettenberger was intercepted by cornerback Kevin Johnson, but the Titans defense forced another three-and-out. On the next play, however, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt sacked Mettenberger and knocked the ball loose. It was recovered by defensive end Jared Crick at Tennessee’s 10-yard line, but the defense again limited the Texans to a field goal (24 yards) by Novak.
Trailing by 14 points, the Titans took possession with 12:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, but after one first down, they were forced to punt. They drove into Texans territory on their following drive, but it ended after they could not overcome a final sack, this one split between Mercilus and Watt.
The Texans were able to run out the majority of the clock from that point.